Merck Seeks Japan’s Approval of Oral COVID-19 Drug

Economy Society Health

Tokyo, Dec. 3 (Jiji Press)--A Japanese unit of U.S. drugmaker Merck & Co. said Friday that it has applied to Japan’s health ministry for fast-track approval of molnupiravir, the group’s oral COVID-19 drug.

If approved, molnupiravir will be the first orally administered novel coronavirus drug to be put into practical use in Japan.

The drug, which would be available on prescription, is expected to reduce the risk of developing serious symptoms, hopefully easing the burden on the country’s medical care system.

Molnupiravir, being developed jointly by Merck and U.S. biotechnology company Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP, is an oral antiviral drug designed to curb the proliferation of the virus. Its use was approved in Britain last month.

In clinical trials conducted in Japan, the United States and elsewhere, molnupiravir reduced the risk of hospitalization and death by about 30 pct for mildly and moderately ill COVID-19 patients.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press